Pony Express: 400 Horses, 80 Men and 18 Fast and Furious Months on the Western Frontier

Photo: Pony Express Statue at St. Joseph, Missouri – public domain

The Pony Express operated from St. Joseph, Missouri through the edge of Southeast Nebraska Territory at Rock Creek Station, through Jefferson and Thayer Counties and then following the Platte River though the rest of Nebraska and ending at Sacramento, California. The opening run for the Pony Express was April 3, 1860 from St. Joseph, Missouri. It consisted of 80 riders, 184 stations and 400 horses. The Pony Express had a short run, only 18 months; It closed on October 24, 1861, right at the start of the Civil War and two days after the connection of the transcontinental telegraph from Omaha to Salt Lake City. A disastrous business failure of the time but it paved the way for opening the East to the West. The stories of the Pony Express are what make up the beginning of the chapters of the American Wild West.

Smithsonian National Museum – Pony Express Poster – 1860

I, … , do hereby swear, before the Great and Living God, that during my engagement, and while I am an employee of Russell, Majors, and Waddell, I will, under no circumstances, use profane language, that I will drink no intoxicating liquors, that I will not quarrel or fight with any other employee of the firm, and that in every respect I will conduct myself honestly, be faithful to my duties, and so direct all my acts as to win the confidence of my employers, so help me God.”— Oath sworn by Pony Express Riders

Centennial Pony Express Stamp – 1960

Pony Express – National Historic Trail: Historic Resource Study by Dr. Anthony Godfrey – 1994 is a great resource for Pony Express history. It is available for free in the open source library. Click the link at the bottom of the preview window for free downloading options.

Pony Express West Bound Stand – St. Joseph, Missouri

Learn More about the Pony Express:

West Like Lightning: The Brief, Legendary Ride of the Pony Express by Jim DeFelice

Available for Kindle

The Pony Express: The History and Legacy of America’s Most Famous Mail Service – Charles River Editors

Available for Free on Kindle



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